Momentum: What do Eric and Bill Johnson (Bethel) teach?

In previous articles I’ve talked about the challenges of interacting with specific people when we disagree. There is the risk that we personalise things that should not be personalised and that we also use famous names, to provide a theological kind of click-bait.

At the same time, elders have a responsibility to guard as well as to feed and so, no matter how reluctantly and cautiously, there are times when we need to step into the fray and to name names.  The challenge is that there are so many novel ideas and big personalities around that we cannot keep up with anything and everything.

With those things in mind, I decided to pick up a book by Eric and Bill Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding California. I picked it up because it was being promoted, on prominent display in our local Christian Bookshop. Also, I’ve been aware of the fuss surrounding Bethel for a little while. There’s two sides to this. First of all, Bethel is extremely popular both in terms of its reputation as a “revival centre” and in the music that is coming out of it.  Secondly, a number of people have questioned the theology underpinning the church and whether or not its orthodox.  Of course, Christian leaders are there to be shot down, especially when amazing things are happening around them, so it is possible that they are being misunderstood or misrepresented. However, the popularity and prominence of Bethel means that this is something relevant to the life of our local church. It is important that our members are able to discern truth from error. Continue reading

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God, Change and Debate – a recent controversy revisited.

Back in December, I wrote a little about the dangers and challenges about how engage in theological debate and disagreement.[1]

Dangers include

  1. That we can become obsessed about an issue and build it up to be more important than it is to the point of serious division between genuine believers.
  2. That we can personalise the debate and pollute the conversation with intemperate language
  3. That the other side of the coin is that we can miss why something is important.

I wrote in the context of concerns about how recent debates about The Doctrine of God has been conducted. I wasn’t convinced that the debate was helpful to church life. This is sad because: Continue reading

The Work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:4-15)

Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?

Is this Church a Spirit Filled Church?

Maybe you have heard those two questions and not been sure how to answer them. Sadly, those two questions cause a lot of division within churches and between churches. This is ironic givent hat he is meant to be the Spirit of Unity.

Maybe it has caused you to doubt or to worry. Am I a proper Christian – or just a second class believer? Is there something I am missing?  Continue reading

Boundaries, Inconsistencies and Theological Safe-guarding

If you’ve been reading some recent posts you’ll hopefully have picked up the following

1.       Human theological systems are imperfect – this means there is scope to challenge, reflect and speculate as we seek to improve our descriptions of God and his actions.

2.       We are all likely to make errors however, there are two protections in place against those errors leading to heresy. The first is an intentional thing -we seek to put boundaries around our thinking and discussions to ensure we don’t stray beyond them.

3.       We are also inconsistent. Meaning that we don’t pursue our errors to their logical conclusions Continue reading

How we talk about God

One of the reasons why there has been some debate between evangelical/reformed theologians about the Doctrine of God is to do with the language we use to talk about God.

We can end up with three types of language. Continue reading